PALM HARBOR — East Lake and Palm Harbor University’s girls soccer teams met for the final time in the regular season Friday night, but it will likely not be the last time the two teams play each other.
Thanks to a 1-1 tie, East Lake secured second place in Class 5A, District 7 behind Steinbrenner while PHU clinched the third seed. That means the Eagles get a bye in the first round of the district tournament while the Hurricanes must play No. 6 seed Alonso.
If PHU beats Alonso as expected it would meet East Lake in an elimination game.
“We’re going to see them in the district semifinals,” East Lake coach Sergei Stopek said. “One of these teams is going to get eliminated. I wanted us to work on our gameplan tonight and not have the pressure of having to win it. In three weeks, that’s when it’s going to be on the line. I’m happy with a 1-1 tie.”
For Palm Harbor University (10-0-5), it was the last game until the district tournament. After a scoreless first half, it looked as if the Hurricanes might get the win it needed to clinch second place.
Three minutes into the second half, Quinn Lombard chased down a ball in the right corner and launched a kick toward the goal. The shot curled over backpedaling goalkeeper Mackenzie Nalven and sneaked into the upper right corner to make it 1-0.
East Lake (11-4-3) stepped up its offensive pressure and scored six minutes later. Maggie Amos floated a corner kick into the 18-yard box. Elisha Holmes headed it into the air, then Emily Cady headed it into the goal.
“I was just waiting there for it and tipped it in,” Cady said. “I just gave it a little tap and it went in.”
After that, two East Lake shots banged off the post. One came with 21 minutes left by Alora McCoy and the second came with five minutes left by Lyndee Mansfield.
“We were pushing players forward because it didn’t matter if we tied or lost,” PHU coach John Planamenta said. “It was a good chance for us to work on it. Now we have to wait about three weeks to play again.”
In the boys game, East Lake broke open a close game with three second-half goals in a 4-1 win over PHU. Josh Page scored twice, once in the first half on an angled shot from 10 yards that went in the left side of the goal, and once in the second half on a penalty kick. He has 23 goals.]
Alex Carbonelli and Taylor Yeretzian each had second-half goals for the Eagles. Codey Iturri scored for the Hurricanes (9-6) with 33 minutes left to make the score 2-1. But East Lake (12-1) pulled away from there.